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Obscured road signs - what you must do

16th July 2020 | Steve Lumley

It's happened to all of us when we're driving down country roads and find a road sign obscured by bushes or trees.

Now GEM Motoring Assist, the road safety organisation, is calling on drivers to report road signs that have been obscured to the authorities.

They say that when the sign is covered up they are a nuisance for motorists and can be dangerous and misleading.

Their safety call comes when roadside vegetation may be showing signs of poor maintenance because of priority issues for authorities that are already stretched and the growth is at its thickest.

Road signs provide information for drivers

Neil Worth, the chief executive of GEM, said: "Road signs provide information for drivers who will plan their actions and speeds based either in part or wholly on what the sign tells them.

"If you cannot see a sign, then a driver's ability to make a safe decision is compromised - particularly on unfamiliar roads."

He added that recent rainfall has seen vegetation at its most prolific at this time of year which means growing numbers of signs are now at risk of being completely or partially covered.

Mr Worth said: "It is a growing menace that is putting road users at risk."

Now, he says that motorists can help advise local councils and highways authorities about where the problem areas are by using the reporting facilities that are provided by these organisations.

‘Vital for road safety’

He added: "It's vital for road safety that bushes, trees and branches are not allowed to obscure information and that everyone who is using the roads has a clear view of the speed limit and other signs."

GEM says that along with reporting obscured road signs, all motorists need to be aware that a speed limit of 30 mph is usually applicable to all traffic on roads with street lighting unless a sign says otherwise.

A survey last year by Transport Focus found that nearly one in three drivers had missed their motorway exit because of either poorly designed or concealed road signs.

If you aren't sure which local authorities are responsible for the sign you have found that is obscured, then there's a government website for England and Wales that will reveal which local authority is responsible for that sign.

In Scotland, the responsibility for trunk roads and motorways is down to Transport Scotland, while other public roads are maintained by the local authority.

For drivers in Northern Ireland, there is a page for reporting a problem with road signs on the NI direct government website.

Transport Focus also has a website for 'Sort My Sign' with the complaint being sent directly to Highways England.

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